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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wisps from the Past

I shared recently about the struggles that my oldest son has been experiencing lately. I also wanted to share something he just finished writing. He combined his recollections from this past summer when he served at a local Christian camp as maintenance assistant, and compared them with some of the things he has recently been going through. Enjoy!


It was a blustery fall day. The fall colors were vivid and bright. Gusts of wind punctuated the scene. It was beautiful to look at, but absolutely miserable to be out working. I happened to be mowing, the steady drone of the diesel engine vibrating through my seat. As I trundled along, astride the tractor I could almost see glimpses from the past summer from the very field I was mowing. The sun broke from the clouds like....

....An average, hot day in July. I could see groups of kids congregating on the ball field, the counselors herding them to one destination. As I steered around them, I kept my eyes on them, less a camper stray in my path. I kept my hand on the throttle as a precaution. As I surveyed them, I noticed the counselors, one counselor in particular, her orange hair glowing in the sunlight. She noticed me, smiled, and waved. I nodded back, and tipped my hat, like any good gentleman. A good friend of mine, she seemed to always be glowing, from inside and out. Having passed the group, I refocused on my task as...

....The tractor bucked and swayed as I hit a bump. A shudder of pain coursed from my body; I was still recovering from some muscle injuries and getting shaken up like a can of soda really hurt. Focusing back on my task at hand, the memories of the summer faded to the back of my head. Another gust of wind blew. I shuddered and huddled as close as I could together, hunched up so as to...

...Keep the rain off me as I rushed past the Chapel on the golf-cart through the pounding storms. I pulled my jacket tighter to keep from getting chilled by the icy raindrops. As I sped by, I could see all the campers inside, the counselors all dressed up for some activity. I continued by, barely missing...

....A telephone pole. I quickly steered around it. I pushed the memories to the back of my mind to clear away any distraction. As I rumbled along, I could see my breath in the wind. I could see from my vantage point the beautiful valley stretched out before me. Over looking the view was a pair of benches...

....Which was my favorite spot in the summer to do my devotions. I looked out over the valley, taking in the splendor of God's creation. God revealed many things through the Bible and His Creation to me from that bench. Even as I was sitting there, I noticed my friend at the other bench, also delighting in the Creation around her. Though tired, her joy shone through her like sunshine. Her hair seemed to belie that, glowing orange...

...like the tree right in front of me! I brought myself back to the present, warm memories fading away, as I maneuvered around around the tree. This was becoming a habit. I continued, the throaty growl from the tractor piercing the cold silence. Another wisp of could wind hit me. I huddled up, trying to make myself impervious to the cold. I passed the pool, covered up and closed down for winter. I could almost imagine that....

...I was standing at the foot of the deep end, towel around my neck like a cape, together with all the other guy counselors. One of the counselors stepped up to the diving board and gave a “war speech”. The campers, clumped together in the shallow end watched us. Some were caught off guard by our sudden congregation at the deep end, exuding confidence and vigor. Some knew what would be coming and were getting their friends to rally around them. Some were completely oblivious to what was happening until the one counselor finished his speech and we all roared a “war cry”. With that, we dived in the water toward the campers. I executed a decent racing dive and swam all the way underwater to the shallow end and popped up next to an unsuspecting camper, his attention on the counselors he could see. Before he was aware of what was happening, I tossed him through the air. This was dunk time! I dived back underwater, seeking another unsuspecting target. As I did, the shock of the cold water hit me like...

... Another gust of cold wind. I shivered and pulled my jacket tighter around me. My breath came out like puffs of smoke. A few flurries flew into my face. My fingers were getting numb with the cold. I flexed them, willing the blood to circulate through them and warm up. My fingers, and my toes had other plans. Instead, they froze up more, it seemed. I pulled the tractor up in front of the dining hall. I stopped the engine and swung off. I strode up to the entrance, cold and tired. I felt exhausted...

...from the hard work prepping the go-karts. I had been working on them for a fair amount of the morning and stayed at the track to be on hand in case any karts broke down. I stepped into the dining hall and took off my hat and sunglasses. Most of the day campers were already at their tables. I wearily made my way to the staff table. I usually ate at the day camp lunch instead of with the regular camp so as to have time to get back to the go-kart track in time. I set my hat, water bottle and sunglasses at my place, then went to wash up. After washing up, I stopped by the mail boxes and checked for mail and maintenance requests. Finding neither, I returned to the dining hall. As I entered, I noticed my friend with her campers. She was busy with her campers, but looked up as I entered. I nodded in greeting, she smiled and waved back. After a brief conversation, I made my way to...

... the kitchen where I made myself a cup of hot chocolate in a thermos. Hopefully, it would keep me warmed on the tractor. I put my hat back on and got back on the tractor. I started it up and resumed mowing. With the hot chocolate in my hand, I was significantly warmer. The fall colors were absolutely magnificent. The colors and atmosphere set the stage for more warm memories of the past summer. As I continued to mow, I could see glimpses of the past. I could see the various spots across the field where I sat down with various campers that I was cabin buddies with and explained to them what it meant to be a Christian. I could see the campers playing games on the field, and the times afterward, explaining the parallels between the game and life. I could see the time spent every morning digging into God's word and praying. I could see the time spent with friends, talking and encouraging each other. I could remember the times spent talking with my mentor and his encouragement of me.

As I thought back on the summer, I remembered all the difficulties and stressful days of being a maintenance assistant. But, I also remembered the times of trusting God's plan, though I didn't desire on being a maintenance assistant: I really wanted to be a counselor. However, God had a plan for me. Through me, He was able to encourage others through my work. Through my experiences, the good and the bad, I learned to trust God implicitly. By being up at camp, I was able to grow in Christ and in my friendships. My one friend and I continue to grow in our friendship. Even now, I'm going through some rough times. However, I still need to trust God implicitly. And, just like before, I need to endure. Also like before, I am privileged to have a good friend who is a great encouragement.

I wish I could say that I rode my tractor into the sunset, but I didn't. The memories from the summer were great to look back at, even with the rough times. I know I have rough times ahead of me. But, I know I can look back at these rough times and see the big picture and how God was working through my situation. Its tough to keep going on, without knowing what's going on. I do know that God knows, and I need to trust Him. Just like those wisps of the past summer, I believe, by faith, that at the end of this rough time, I can look back and see God glorified, just like this past summer.

1 comment:

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Oh this was just wonderful. Your son is a very talanted writer! Thank you so much for sharing some of his writings with us!

Marilyn